In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in. … Winter clears the landscape, however brutally, giving us a chance to see ourselves and each other more clearly, to see the very ground of our being.Parker Palmer, There is a Season
Nature in the winter is streamlined and honest. On sunny days, the anatomy of natural places is more visible, because less is hidden with greenery. This is the time of year when you can study a tree and see how it has grown, and see the birds that live in it. Winter is good for star-gazing, too, because cold air holds less hazy moisture than balmy summer air, so a cloudless winter night is particularly clear.
Clarity is a powerful resource in our lives. Clarity of thought helps us to focus on what is truly important and get to the heart of what needs to be done. Clarity brings renewal, a fresh start, and peace, like a clear lake that you can see all the way to the bottom of.
Sometimes our thoughts are confused or fearful, and we don’t know what direction to go next. Worry and grief about the state of the world and the future we are leaving for our children might cloud our thinking so that that we can’t see through the murk.
Quakers have a practice that works to dispel this kind of confusion: First we worship, and listen to the inner guide. We might ask ourselves a query, and then listen for a message of hope, or a glimmer of a next step.
Then we bring this message to a clearness process. It could be a formally called clearness committee (contact Ministry and Council Committee), or an informal gathering of a few friends. In either case, friends will not offer advise but, instead, gently prod you towards clarity, to help loosen the stuck places and let the fog roll away.
A clearness process goes like this:
- You will worship together.
- Friends will listen deeply to the questions and concerns you have brought.
- Friends will question you in a careful, gentle and open-ended manner.
- Friends will reflect back what they have heard.
Queries for Clarity in the New Year:
- What is your experience in realizing a clear connection between hope and tending the earth?
- How do we seek clarity about the work we are called to do at the intersection of stewardship, peacemaking, and community?
- How do we find the strength to act in the face of the heaviness of the news?
- How can we support individuals and groups in our meeting to seek clarity when they feel called to take action on earth care?